Father J. Ronald Knott
Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2
One of the words that jumps out at me during this Lenten season is the word “focus.” It seems that what Jesus went to the desert to do at the beginning of his ministry, and what we are all called to do in the desert of Lent with him, is to “focus” our attention. His “focus,” of course, was to discern his Father’s will and to carry it out.
When it comes to focusing, Ben Stein makes a valuable insight. “The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.”
It’s amazing when you try to do counseling and come to the point where you realize that the person in front of you does not have the foggiest idea what they actually want or where they want to go.
Earl Nightingale had this related insight, “People with goals succeed because they know where they are going … it’s as simple as that.” Henry David Thoreau was right when he said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to their graves with the song still in them.”
The purpose of focusing is clarity. Clarity combined with passion and discipline leads to results.
Sir John Lubbock makes this point about focusing, “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” Sophocles said, “Look and you will find it — what is unsought will go undetected.” Hannah Whitall Smith said this, “Keep your mind on the things you want and off the things you don’t want.”
If you really “hunger and thirst for holiness” this Lent, you will find it.
Focusing until you find out what you want is vital, but it is only a good starting place. “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives,” said William A. Foster.
Once Jesus decided that he would follow his Father’s will no matter what, carrying through on that decision required disciplined attention and heroic sacrifice. Making Lenten resolutions is easy. Carrying through on them requires a habitual direction of one’s powers.
Dennis Weaver said this about focusing, “To get what you want, stop doing what isn’t working.” Often the distance between what we want and what we have is blocked by numerous self-defeating behaviors. Rather than looking for a magic bullet to add to our lives, maybe the secret of our focusing during Lent is to identify and eliminate “what isn’t working.”
Lent is a time to go to “the desert,” to the “mountaintop,” to the “well,” “back home” and to the “doctor” so as to gain focus, insight, refreshment, comfort and healing.
Lent is a time to slow down and remember where we are going. Lent is not a season just for wishing, but a season also for doing. William James said something worth remembering, “Act the part and you will become the part.”